KЛИHOM


Wordworth’s Sonnets by Andrew Hart
October 18, 2010, 5:33 pm
Filed under: literature, poetry

Three sonnets by Wordsworth (that are probably his most famous ones):

“The World Is Too Much With Us”

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. – Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

Sonnet Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802

Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!

“London, 1802”

MILTON! thou should’st be living at this hour:
England hath need of thee: she is a fen
Of stagnant waters: altar, sword, and pen,
Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower,
Have forfeited their ancient English dower
Of inward happiness. We are selfish men;
Oh! raise us up, return to us again;
And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power.
Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart:
Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea:10
Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free,
So didst thou travel on life’s common way,
In cheerful godliness; and yet thy heart
The lowliest duties on herself did lay.


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Sailing to Byzantium by Andrew Hart
February 11, 2010, 1:29 am
Filed under: literature, poetry

I
That is no country for old men. The young
In one another’s arms, birds in the trees
—Those dying generations—at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unaging intellect.

II
An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

III
O sages standing in God’s holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

IV
Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.



ROASTBEEF by Andrew Hart
January 28, 2010, 4:28 am
Filed under: literature, poetry

From Gertrude Stein’s Tender Buttons, section one (“Food”).

ROASTBEEF.

In the inside there is sleeping, in the outside there is reddening, in the morning there is meaning, in the evening there is feeling. In the evening there is feeling. In feeling anything is resting, in feeling anything is mounting, in feeling there is resignation, in feeling there is recognition, in feeling there is recurrence and entirely mistaken there is pinching. All the standards have steamers and all the curtains have bed linen and all the yellow has discrimination and all the circle has circling. This makes sand.

Very well. Certainly the length is thinner and the rest, the round rest has a longer summer. To shine, why not shine, to shine, to station, to enlarge, to hurry the measure all this means nothing if there is singing, if there is singing then there is the resumption.

The change the dirt, not to change dirt means that there is no beefsteak and not to have that is no obstruction, it is so easy to exchange meaning, it is so easy to see the difference. The difference is that a plain resource is not entangled with thickness and it does not mean that thickness shows such cutting, it does mean that a meadow is useful and a cow absurd. It does not mean that there are tears, it does not mean that exudation is cumbersome, it means no more than a memory, a choice and a reëstablishment, it means more than any escape from a surrounding extra. All the time that there is use there is use and any time there is a surface there is a surface, and every time there is an exception there is an exception and every time there is a division there is a dividing. Any time there is a surface there is a surface and every time there is a suggestion there is a suggestion and every time there is silence there is silence and every time that is languid there is that there then and not oftener, not always, not particular, tender and changing and external and central and surrounded and singular and simple and the same and the surface and the circle and the shine and the succor and the white and the same and the better and the red and the same and the centre and the yellow and the tender and the better, and altogether.

Considering the circumstances there is no occasion for a reduction, considering that there is no pealing there is no occasion for an obligation, considering that there is no outrage there is no necessity for any reparation, considering that there is no particle sodden there is no occasion for deliberation. Considering everything and which way the turn is tending, considering everything why is there no restraint, considering everything what makes the place settle and the plate distinguish some specialties. The whole thing is not understood and this is not strange considering that there is no education, this is not strange because having that certainly does show the difference in cutting, it shows that when there is turning there is no distress.

In kind, in a control, in a period, in the alteration of pigeons, in kind cuts and thick and thin spaces, in kind ham and different colors, the length of leaning a strong thing outside not to make a sound but to suggest a crust, the principal taste is when there is a whole chance to be reasonable, this does not mean that there is overtaking, this means nothing precious, this means clearly that the chance to exercise is a social success. So then the sound is not obtrusive. Suppose it is obtrusive suppose it is. What is certainly the desertion is not a reduced description, a description is not a birthday.

Lovely snipe and tender turn, excellent vapor and slender butter, all the splinter and the trunk, all the poisonous darkning drunk, all the joy in weak success, all the joyful tenderness, all the section and the tea, all the stouter symmetry.

Around the size that is small, inside the stern that is the middle, besides the remains that are praying, inside the between that is turning, all the region is measuring and melting is exaggerating.

Rectangular ribbon does not mean that there is no eruption it means that if there is no place to hold there is no place to spread. Kindness is not earnest, it is not assiduous it is not revered.

Room to comb chickens and feathers and ripe purple, room to curve single plates and large sets and second silver, room to send everything away, room to save heat and distemper, room to search a light that is simpler, all room has no shadow.

There is no use there is no use at all in smell, in taste, in teeth, in toast, in anything, there is no use at all and the respect is mutual.

Why should that which is uneven, that which is resumed, that which is tolerable why should all this resemble a smell, a thing is there, it whistles, it is not narrower, why is there no obligation to stay away and yet courage, courage is everywhere and the best remains to stay.

If there could be that which is contained in that which is felt there would be a chair where there are chairs and there would be no more denial about a clatter. A clatter is not a smell. All this is good.

The Saturday evening which is Sunday is every week day. What choice is there when there is a difference. A regulation is not active. Thirstiness is not equal division.

Anyway, to be older and ageder is not a surfeit nor a suction, it is not dated and careful, it is not dirty. Any little thing is clean, rubbing is black. Why should ancient lambs be goats and young colts and never beef, why should they, they should because there is so much difference in age.

A sound, a whole sound is not separation, a whole sound is in an order.

Suppose there is a pigeon, suppose there is.

Looseness, why is there a shadow in a kitchen, there is a shadow in a kitchen because every little thing is bigger.

The time when there are four choices and there are four choices in a difference, the time when there are four choices there is a kind and there is a kind. There is a kind. There is a kind. Supposing there is a bone, there is a bone. Supposing there are bones. There are bones. When there are bones there is no supposing there are bones. There are bones and there is that consuming. The kindly way to feel separating is to have a space between. This shows a likeness.

Hope in gates, hope in spoons, hope in doors, hope in tables, no hope in daintiness and determination. Hope in dates.

Tin is not a can and a stove is hardly. Tin is not necessary and neither is a stretcher. Tin is never narrow and thick.

Color is in coal. Coal is outlasting roasting and a spoonful, a whole spoon that is full is not spilling. Coal any coal is copper.

Claiming nothing, not claiming anything, not a claim in everything, collecting claiming, all this makes a harmony, it even makes a succession.

Sincerely gracious one morning, sincerely graciously trembling, sincere in gracious eloping, all this makes a furnace and a blanket. All this shows quantity.

Like an eye, not so much more, not any searching, no compliments.

Please be the beef, please beef, pleasure is not wailing. Please beef, please be carved clear, please be a case of consideration.

Search a neglect. A sale, any greatness is a stall and there is no memory, there is no clear collection.

A satin sight, what is a trick, no trick is mountainous and the color, all the rush is in the blood.

Bargaining for a little, bargain for a touch, a liberty, an estrangement, a characteristic turkey.

Please spice, please no name, place a whole weight, sink into a standard rising, raise a circle, choose a right around, make the resonance accounted and gather green any collar.

To bury a slender chicken, to raise an old feather, to surround a garland and to bake a pole splinter, to suggest a repose and to settle simply, to surrender one another, to succeed saving simpler, to satisfy a singularity and not to be blinder, to sugar nothing darker and to read redder, to have the color better, to sort out dinner, to remain together, to surprise no sinner, to curve nothing sweeter, to continue thinner, to increase in resting recreation to design string not dimmer.

Cloudiness what is cloudiness, is it a lining, is it a roll, is it melting.

The sooner there is jerking, the sooner freshness is tender, the sooner the round it is not round the sooner it is withdrawn in cutting, the sooner the measure means service, the sooner there is chinking, the sooner there is sadder than salad, the sooner there is none do her, the sooner there is no choice, the sooner there is a gloom freer, the same sooner and more sooner, this is no error in hurry and in pressure and in opposition to consideration.

A recital, what is a recital, it is an organ and use does not strengthen valor, it soothes medicine.

A transfer, a large transfer, a little transfer, some transfer, clouds and tracks do transfer, a transfer is not neglected.

Pride, when is there perfect pretence, there is no more than yesterday and ordinary.

A sentence of a vagueness that is violence is authority and a mission and stumbling and also certainly also a prison. Calmness, calm is beside the plate and in way in. There is no turn in terror. There is no volume in sound.

There is coagulation in cold and there is none in prudence. Something is preserved and the evening is long and the colder spring has sudden shadows in a sun. All the stain is tender and lilacs really lilacs are disturbed. Why is the perfect reëstablishment practiced and prized, why is it composed. The result the pure result is juice and size and baking and exhibition and nonchalance and sacrifice and volume and a section in division and the surrounding recognition and horticulture and no murmur. This is a result. There is no superposition and circumstance, there is hardness and a reason and the rest and remainder. There is no delight and no mathematics.



tartuffe and the root of hypocrisy by Andrew Hart
January 22, 2010, 3:00 am
Filed under: essays, literature

Richard Wilbur precedes his amusing and finely honed translation of Tartuffe with a startling revelation: Tartuffe is not a religious hypocrite.  Generations of readers have glossed over this simple fact that becomes a provocative avenue for exploration once aired.

For those not familiar with Tartuffe, the plot is darkly comedic.  Orgon, the head of a French family, is taken in by Tartuffe, a swindler who curries favor by pretending to be an overly pious man.  The unsuspecting Orgon sponsors the devious Tartuffe, much to the chagrin of most of his household, who can see Tartuffe’s true colors.  Orgon reneges on his promise to allow his daughter Mariane to marry her love Valere, and instead promises her to Tartuffe.  But Tartuffe actually has designs on Orgon’s voluptuous young wife, Elmire.

Mariane’s maid Dorine sets into motion a plot to unmask Tartuffe as a swindler, but it is foiled when Orgon’s hotheaded son Damis accuses Tartuffe too soon, leading Orgon to disown him and believe Tartuffe instead.  Tartuffe convinces Orgon to will the deed of the estate to him, and uses some incriminating documents as blackmail in an attempt to kick Orgon out of his home.  But just when it appears that Orgon will be arrested for treason, Tartuffe himself is taken to jail, recognized by Louis XIV as a notorious swindler who once went by another name.

Wilbur asks us to concentrate on the last plot point.  Tartuffe is unmasked as a confidence-man, a notorious all-around swindler who used religion in this instance to gain the trust of Orgon.  Hypocrisy is his game, not his nature.  His nature is deceit in all forms, and he stays true to form throughout the play.  So Tartuffe — the character marked in the dramatis personae as “hypocrite” — is consistent.

What do we make of a play featuring an un-hypocritical hypocrite?  It tugs at the very root of hypocrisy itself.  Hypocrisy does not stem from evil deeds in Tartuffe; we can trace its origin to less obvious sources.

In final response to Mariane’s vehement protest against marriage with Tartuffe, Orgon instructs her to “mortify [her] flesh” and go through with the union.  The meaning is clear: Orgon, faced with the unknown of old age and loss of control over his family, prefers that Mariane marry Tartuffe and become old instead of marrying Valere to stay young.  Allying with Tartuffe is not an end, but a means to Orgon’s attempts to undermine his family to maintain his own happiness.

That Orgon’s personal happiness is his only aim further manifests itself in his refusal to believe his son, wife, maid, and daughter when told of Tartuffe’s designs on Elmire.  The views are so stilted that Orgon can hardly believe it when his own mother parrots them after events have conspired to expose Tartuffe’s treachery.  Orgon’s mother is as convinced of Tartuffe’s saintliness as she is hateful and bigoted, so her over-the-top defense of Tartuffe to her son after Tartuffe’s betrayal is clear stands as an especially hilarious reminder to just how self-serving Orgon’s actions were.

This central unmasking of in Tartuffe is its greatest and most subtle stroke.  The play reveals that the desire to do evil does not make the hypocrite.  The root of hypocrisy is fear and insecurity, and the hypocrite of the play is not Tartuffe, but Orgon himself.



the death of the great american poet by Andrew Hart
January 13, 2010, 1:24 am
Filed under: essays, literature, poetry

What happened to this Great American Poet whose bloodline seems to have run dry after Wallace Stevens?  Some people will tell you that American poetry these days is written by academics for academia.  That it’s dark, depressing, and generally just impossible to relate to.  Poetry, they say, needs to return to lyricism, return to happiness, return to romanticism, return to anything to get away from what it’s turned into today.  Most of all, poetry needs a return to structure.

Structure is always what reconciles the human with humanity.  We use it to relate what can’t ever be related: that thing inside of us isn’t quite the same when we put it in everyone else’s terms.  A sonnet is a stricter imposition of structure on that thing.  Impose less and maybe rhyme a little bit, go in and out of iambic pentameter when it suits; invent forms like Eliot, invent orders like Moore.  But no matter what, the thing is still never the same in any common terms.

The past doesn’t care; it will always impose itself.  Its very words are icebergs.  Look into them long enough and somewhere from the cold deep a meaning surfaces to inform a reconception.  Emerson told us to look within, trust ourselves, and listen to the vibration of that iron string.  But what is “trust,” what is “iron,” what is “string” without the past speakers who decided that those sounds and letters would mean those things?  To have us look within, Emerson forced us to look outside.  And it could not have been different.

Words can only mean if they’ve meant before and will again.  In our indebtedness to the past for its words, we allow its manifold meanings free reign over our understanding.  Words mean all of their meanings, and try as we might we can never narrow them.  And so poetry is the art in which you always try to mean for yourself but never do.  Frost saw it: for him, a poem was an icecube on a stove; you could place it, but you never knew where it would end up.

High modernist poetry tried to get closer to the thing by avoiding structure.  Words for Eliot were fragments shored up against an ultimate ruin.  Moore imposed her own arbitrary rules.  Cummings created a grammar.  There was a collective feeling of accomplishment, the idea that we could look to a community of poets and academics to answer our own inner questions.

But the collective push modernism was not the answer to the problem of reconciling the thing inside with structure.  Apollonaire saw his century raise up like an airplane, like Christ.  The century flew like nothing natural, historical, religious, technological.   Apollonaire’s speaker ends up walking home in the bright morning from a prostitute’s bedroom, the sun above him a severed neck as he thinks of the fetishes and idols that line the bed he will soon crawl into to sleep away the morning.  Collective modernity can pull itself up and everything else with it, but the communal progress will crash down when the individual poet recognizes that the thing inside is always already unable to be spoken.

Since then, we’ve had confessional poetry, free verse, and even a return to formalism.  Where are we today?  Poetry is increasingly about the inner thing, and continues to shirk the easy relations to common humanity that satisfy us.  American Poets are not dead, they just alienate us with our constant cravings for structure.

But we live in a world of text, and too many feel its pull to declare the death of the Great American Poet just yet.

Recommended reading:

Guillame Apollonaire’s “Zone
T.S. Eliot, “The Waste Land



Poetry about Brooklyn Bridge and its environs by Douglas Graebner
July 15, 2009, 12:01 pm
Filed under: literature

As a apology for posting less frequently, I present an extra-long post about getting from Manhattan to Brooklyn. First, Whitman’s Crossing Brooklyn Ferry.

1
F
LOOD-TIDE below me! I watch you face to face;
Clouds of the west! sun there half an hour high! I see you also face to face.
Crowds of men and women attired in the usual costumes! how curious you are to me!
On the ferry-boats, the hundreds and hundreds that cross, returning home, are more curious to me than you suppose;
And you that shall cross from shore to shore years hence, are more to me, and more in my meditations, than you might suppose. 5
2
The impalpable sustenance of me from all things, at all hours of the day;
The simple, compact, well-join’d scheme—myself disintegrated, every one disintegrated, yet part of the scheme:
The similitudes of the past, and those of the future;
The glories strung like beads on my smallest sights and hearings—on the walk in the street, and the passage over the river;
The current rushing so swiftly, and swimming with me far away; 10
The others that are to follow me, the ties between me and them;
The certainty of others—the life, love, sight, hearing of others.
Others will enter the gates of the ferry, and cross from shore to shore;
Others will watch the run of the flood-tide;
Others will see the shipping of Manhattan north and west, and the heights of Brooklyn to the south and east; 15
Others will see the islands large and small;
Fifty years hence, others will see them as they cross, the sun half an hour high;
A hundred years hence, or ever so many hundred years hence, others will see them,
Will enjoy the sunset, the pouring in of the flood-tide, the falling back to the sea of the ebb-tide.

3
It avails not, neither time or place—distance avails not;
20
I am with you, you men and women of a generation, or ever so many generations hence;
I project myself—also I return—I am with you, and know how it is.
Just as you feel when you look on the river and sky, so I felt;
Just as any of you is one of a living crowd, I was one of a crowd;
Just as you are refresh’d by the gladness of the river and the bright flow, I was refresh’d; 25
Just as you stand and lean on the rail, yet hurry with the swift current, I stood, yet was hurried;
Just as you look on the numberless masts of ships, and the thick-stem’d pipes of steamboats, I look’d.
I too many and many a time cross’d the river, the sun half an hour high;
I watched the Twelfth-month sea-gulls—I saw them high in the air, floating with motionless wings, oscillating their bodies,
I saw how the glistening yellow lit up parts of their bodies, and left the rest in strong shadow, 30
I saw the slow-wheeling circles, and the gradual edging toward the south.
I too saw the reflection of the summer sky in the water,
Had my eyes dazzled by the shimmering track of beams,
Look’d at the fine centrifugal spokes of light around the shape of my head in the sun-lit water,
Look’d on the haze on the hills southward and southwestward, 35
Look’d on the vapor as it flew in fleeces tinged with violet,
Look’d toward the lower bay to notice the arriving ships,
Saw their approach, saw aboard those that were near me,
Saw the white sails of schooners and sloops—saw the ships at anchor,
The sailors at work in the rigging, or out astride the spars, 40
The round masts, the swinging motion of the hulls, the slender serpentine pennants,
The large and small steamers in motion, the pilots in their pilot-houses,
The white wake left by the passage, the quick tremulous whirl of the wheels,
The flags of all nations, the falling of them at sun-set,
The scallop-edged waves in the twilight, the ladled cups, the frolicsome crests and glistening, 45
The stretch afar growing dimmer and dimmer, the gray walls of the granite store-houses by the docks,
On the river the shadowy group, the big steam-tug closely flank’d on each side by the barges—the hay-boat, the belated lighter,
On the neighboring shore, the fires from the foundry chimneys burning high and glaringly into the night,
Casting their flicker of black, contrasted with wild red and yellow light, over the tops of houses, and down into the clefts of streets.
4
These, and all else, were to me the same as they are to you;
50
I project myself a moment to tell you—also I return.
I loved well those cities;
I loved well the stately and rapid river;
The men and women I saw were all near to me;
Others the same—others who look back on me, because I look’d forward to them; 55
(The time will come, though I stop here to-day and to-night.)

5
What is it, then, between us?
What is the count of the scores or hundreds of years between us?
Whatever it is, it avails not—distance avails not, and place avails not.
6
I too
lived—Brooklyn, of ample hills, was mine;
60
I too walk’d the streets of Manhattan Island, and bathed in the waters around it;
I too felt the curious abrupt questionings stir within me,
In the day, among crowds of people, sometimes they came upon me,
In my walks home late at night, or as I lay in my bed, they came upon me.
I too had been struck from the float forever held in solution; 65
I too had receiv’d identity by my Body;
That I was, I knew was of my body—and what I should be, I knew I should be of my body.
7
It is not upon you alone the dark patches fall,
The dark threw patches down upon me also;
The best I had done seem’d to me blank and suspicious; 70
My great thoughts, as I supposed them, were they not in reality meagre? would not people laugh at me?
It is not you alone who know what it is to be evil;
I am he who knew what it was to be evil;
I too knitted the old knot of contrariety,
Blabb’d, blush’d, resented, lied, stole, grudg’d, 75
Had guile, anger, lust, hot wishes I dared not speak,
Was wayward, vain, greedy, shallow, sly, cowardly, malignant;
The wolf, the snake, the hog, not wanting in me,
The cheating look, the frivolous word, the adulterous wish, not wanting,
Refusals, hates, postponements, meanness, laziness, none of these wanting. 80
8
But I was Manhattanese, friendly and
proud!
I was call’d by my nighest name by clear loud voices of young men as they saw me approaching or passing,
Felt their arms on my neck as I stood, or the negligent leaning of their flesh against me as I sat,
Saw many I loved in the street, or ferry-boat, or public assembly, yet never told them a word,
Lived the same life with the rest, the same old laughing, gnawing, sleeping, 85
Play’d the part that still looks back on the actor or actress,
The same old role, the role that is what we make it, as great as we like,
Or as small as we like, or both great and small.

9
Closer yet I approach you;
What thought you have of me, I had as much of you—I laid in my stores in advance; 90
I consider’d long and seriously of you before you were born.
Who was to know what should come home to me?
Who knows but I am enjoying this?
Who knows but I am as good as looking at you now, for all you cannot see me?
It is not you alone, nor I alone; 95
Not a few races, nor a few generations, nor a few centuries;
It is that each came, or comes, or shall come, from its due emission,
From the general centre of all, and forming a part of all:
Everything indicates—the smallest does, and the largest does;
A necessary film envelopes all, and envelopes the Soul for a proper time. 100
10
Now I am curious what sight can ever be more stately and admirable to me than my mast-hemm’d Manhattan,
My river and sun-set, and my scallop-edg’d waves of flood-tide,
The sea-gulls oscillating their bodies, the hay-boat in the twilight, and the belated lighter;
Curious what Gods can exceed these that clasp me by the hand, and with voices I love call me promptly and loudly by my nighest name as I approach;
Curious what is more subtle than this which ties me to the woman or man that looks in my face, 105
Which fuses me into you now, and pours my meaning into you.
We understand, then, do we not?
What I promis’d without mentioning it, have you not accepted?
What the study could not teach—what the preaching could not accomplish, is accomplish’d, is it not?
What the push of reading could not start, is started by me personally, is it not? 110
11
Flow on, river! flow with the flood-tide, and ebb with the ebb-tide!
Frolic on, crested and scallop-edg’d waves!
Gorgeous clouds of the sun-set! drench with your splendor me, or the men and women generations after me;
Cross from shore to shore, countless crowds of passengers!
Stand up, tall masts of Mannahatta!—stand up, beautiful hills of Brooklyn! 115
Throb, baffled and curious brain! throw out questions and answers!
Suspend here and everywhere, eternal float of solution!
Gaze, loving and thirsting eyes, in the house, or street, or public assembly!
Sound out, voices of young men! loudly and musically call me by my nighest name!
Live, old life! play the part that looks back on the actor or actress! 120
Play the old role, the role that is great or small, according as one makes it!
Consider, you who peruse me, whether I may not in unknown ways be looking upon you;
Be firm, rail over the river, to support those who lean idly, yet haste with the hasting current;
Fly on, sea-birds! fly sideways, or wheel in large circles high in the air;
Receive the summer sky, you water! and faithfully hold it, till all downcast eyes have time to take it from you; 125
Diverge, fine spokes of light, from the shape of my head, or any one’s head, in the sun-lit water;
Come on, ships from the lower bay! pass up or down, white-sail’d schooners, sloops, lighters!
Flaunt away, flags of all nations! be duly lower’d at sunset;
Burn high your fires, foundry chimneys! cast black shadows at nightfall! cast red and yellow light over the tops of the houses;
Appearances, now or henceforth, indicate what you are; 130
You necessary film, continue to envelop the soul;
About my body for me, and your body for you, be hung our divinest aromas;
Thrive, cities! bring your freight, bring your shows, ample and sufficient rivers;
Expand, being than which none else is perhaps more spiritual;
Keep your places, objects than which none else is more lasting. 135
12
We descend upon you and all things—we arrest you all;
We realize the soul only by you, you faithful solids and fluids;
Through you color, form, location, sublimity, ideality;
Through you every proof, comparison, and all the suggestions and determinations of ourselves.
You have waited, you always wait, you dumb, beautiful ministers! you novices! 140
We receive you with free sense at last, and are insatiate henceforward;
Not you any more shall be able to foil us, or withhold yourselves from us;
We use you, and do not cast you aside—we plant you permanently within us;
We fathom you not—we love you—there is perfection in you also;
You furnish your parts toward eternity; 145
Great or small, you furnish your parts toward the soul.


Now, Hart Crane’s Proem: To Brooklyn Bridge

How many dawns, chill from his rippling rest
The seagull's wings shall dip and pivot him,
Shedding white rings of tumult, building high
Over the chained bay waters Liberty--

Then, with inviolate curve, forsake our eyes
As apparitional as sails that cross
Some page of figures to be filed away;
--Till elevators drop us from our day . . .

I think of cinemas, panoramic sleights
With multitudes bent toward some flashing scene
Never disclosed, but hastened to again,
Foretold to other eyes on the same screen;

And Thee, across the harbor, silver-paced
As though the sun took step of thee, yet left
Some motion ever unspent in thy stride,--
Implicitly thy freedom staying thee!

Out of some subway scuttle, cell or loft
A bedlamite speeds to thy parapets,
Tilting there momently, shrill shirt ballooning,
A jest falls from the speechless caravan.

Down Wall, from girder into street noon leaks,
A rip-tooth of the sky's acetylene;
All afternoon the cloud-flown derricks turn . . .
Thy cables breathe the North Atlantic still.

And obscure as that heaven of the Jews,
Thy guerdon . . . Accolade thou dost bestow
Of anonymity time cannot raise:
Vibrant reprieve and pardon thou dost show.

O harp and altar, of the fury fused,
(How could mere toil align thy choiring strings!)
Terrific threshold of the prophet's pledge,
Prayer of pariah, and the lover's cry,--

Again the traffic lights that skim thy swift
Unfractioned idiom, immaculate sigh of stars,
Beading thy path--condense eternity:
And we have seen night lifted in thine arms.

Under thy shadow by the piers I waited;
Only in darkness is thy shadow clear.
The City's fiery parcels all undone,
Already snow submerges an iron year . . .

O Sleepless as the river under thee,
Vaulting the sea, the prairies' dreaming sod,
Unto us lowliest sometime sweep, descend
And of the curveship lend a myth to God.





Strange Meeting by bwordsworth
May 8, 2009, 12:16 pm
Filed under: literature, poetry

This is my favorite Wilfred Owen poem. It occurs under such an awesome, mind-boggling pretense.

It seemed that out of battle I escaped
Down some profound dull tunnel, long since scooped
Through granites which titanic wars had groined.


Yet also there encumbered sleepers groaned,
Too fast in thought or death to be bestirred.
Then, as I probed them, one sprang up, and stared
With piteous recognition in fixed eyes,
Lifting distressful hands as if to bless.
And by his smile, I knew that sullen hall
By his dead smile I knew we stood in Hell.


With a thousand pains that vision’s face was grained;
Yet no blood reached there from the upper ground,
And no guns thumped, or down the flues made moan.
“Strange friend,” I said, “here is no cause to mourn.”
“None,” said that other, “save the undone years,
The hopelessness. Whatever hope is yours,
Was my life also; I went hunting wild
After the wildest beauty in the world,
Which lies not calm in eyes, or braided hair,
But mocks the steady running of the hour,
And if it grieves, grieves richlier than here.
And of my weeping something had been left,
Which must die now. I mean the truth untold,
The pity of war, the pity war distilled.
Now men will go content with what we have spoiled,
Or, discontent, boil bloody, and be spilled.
They will be swift with the swiftness of the tigress.
None will break ranks, though nations trek from progress.
Courage was mine, and I had mystery,
Wisdom was mine, and I had mastery:
To miss the march of this retreating world
Into vain citadels that are not walled.
Then, when much blood had clogged their chariot-wheels,
I would go up and wash them from sweet wells,
Even with truths that lie too deep for taint.
I would have poured my spirit without stint
But not through wounds; not on the cess of war.
Foreheads of men have bled where no wounds were.
I am the enemy you killed, my friend.
I knew you in this dark: for so you frowned
Yesterday through me as you jabbed and killed.
I parried; but my hands were loath and cold.
Let us sleep now . . . .”

Wilfred Owen

edit: there’s apparently this addendum:

(This poem was found among the author’s papers. It ends on this strange note)

Another Version

Earth’s wheels run oiled with blood. Forget we that.
Let us lie down and dig ourselves in thought.
Beauty is yours and you have mastery,
Wisdom is mine and I have mystery.
We two will stay behind and keep our troth.
Let us forego men’s minds that are brute’s natures,
Be we not swift with swiftness of the tigress.
Let us break ranks from those who trek from progress.
Miss we the march of this retreating world
Into old citadels that are not walled.
Let us lie out and hold the open truth.
Then when their blood hath clogged the chariot wheels
We will go up and wash them from deep wells.
What though we sink from men as pitchers falling
Many shall raise us up to be their filling
Even from wells we sunk too deep for war
And filled by brows that bled where no wounds were.